Best Tactical Watches for Military Personnel

Best Tactical Watches for Military Personnel

All the men and women enlisted in the US Army are incredibly courageous. When posted in conflict areas such as Iraq and Afghanistan they are putting their lives in danger on a daily basis. They perform this selfless act to protect and to serve so that the rest of us back home can go about our daily lives, mostly without even a thought for them or their families.

I for one would like to thank them for their service and sacrifices the only way I know how. I am by no means a soldier or even close to been soldier material, however, I can contribute my time, and abilities to research and compile a list of the best tactical watches for military personnel. This will be my small contribution to helping keep our troops safe when on the battlefield.

The correct choice of a tactical watch could very well save your life in combat and various other situations. Military personnel in the field are permitted to wear watches as long as they are not too vulgar or flashy. After speaking to a soldier friend of mine who has done a couple of tours in Iraq, I have taken his input and narrowed down what features make a tactical watch perfect for military personnel.

What to look out for in a watch for military personnel:

  • Dust resistant, this is especially important if stationed in Iraq or Afghanistan
  • Large digits that are easy to see at a glance
  • Extremely durable and up to the hammering it will take in the field
  • A stopwatch that runs for longer than 60 minutes
  • A compass, if your DAGR or lensatic compass fails you this feature could be the difference between life and death.
  • Must be lightweight, with plastic or interchangeable straps

Some nice to have features but not a must are:

  • Built-in GPS
  • Thermometer
  • Negative style illumination
  • Different time zones are a nice function to have
  • Solar powered
  • Water resistant at least up to 200m

Some may disagree with me placing solar power as a nice to have a function for obvious reasons. I know it can be difficult and possibly impossible to replace a watch battery in dusty conditions or remote locations. Also, a dead battery could cost you your life if you are in a life-threatening situation. However, some Military men that I have had the pleasure of speaking to say that they have managed just fine with battery operated watches and it has never posed a problem to them. So in this instance, let's agree to disagree and leave it to personal preference.

Bearing all this in mind let’s get down to the nitty-gritty and round up my top ten best tactical watches for Military personnel.

#1 - Casio Men's PAG240-1CR Pathfinder Triple Sensor

The feature packed Pathfinder from Casio can most likely be found in the top 3 of any military watch guide which is exactly where it deserves to be. The stainless steel case and the men’s standard size 18mm wide resin band, make it durable and easy to keep clean in all situations. It comes standard with Casio’s one-year limited warranty.

WHAT WE LIKED

  • Digital compass
  • 51-mm stainless steel case with mineral dial windows
  • Solar powered
  • Battery power indicator and power saving mode
  • 5 alarms

WHAT WE DIDN'T LIKE

  • Only water resistant up to 100m
  • For thermometer to work correctly you need to remove it from your wrist

If you can see it as a disadvantage as these watches are perfect for soldiers heading off to Iraq or Afghanistan, it won’t make a difference if it is water resistant or not. Other great features are the countdown timer, altimeter, 1/100-second stopwatch, 12/24-hour formats, full auto calendar (pre-programmed until 2099), EL backlight, barometer, low-temperature resistance, and thermometer. The PAG240 is solar powered, with an approximate battery life of 6 months without any exposure to light. There is solar panel built into the watch face with can charge the battery using any light source. This is one watch that you will want to have with you in combat.

#2 - Casio G-Shock Rangeman GW9400

The Rangeman which is the latest edition to the G series designed with the ‘’Triple 10’’ design method in mind. The design teams aim was to create a watch with 10-meter free-fall endurance, 10-bar water resistance and a 10-year battery life, which is precisely what the Rangeman is. It is the ultimate in toughness, shock resistant and water resistant up to 200m.

WHAT WE LIKED

  • Triple Sensor (Altimeter/Barometer, Compass, and Thermometer)
  • Mud resistant
  • World times
  • Sunset/sunrise data
  • Low temperature resistant
  • Solar powered with a battery life of approx. seven months with no exposure to light

WHAT WE DIDN'T LIKE

  • Full Auto LED (Super Illuminator) Backlight with Afterglow
  • Like with other G-Shock series, you need to remove the watch from your wrist for the thermometer to work properly

While many Marines have told me that they have learned how to handle a bright watch in the field without any problems, others prefer a softer light to avoid giving their position away. The Multi-Band Atomic Timekeeping watch receives time calibration radio signals which keep the displayed time accurate. It has an auto receive function (up to 6 times per day/up to 5 times per day for China) and a manual receive function. Shipped from Italy, this is the ‘’Italian Stallion’’ of tactical watches

#3 - Casio Men's G9300-1 Mudman G-Shock

If you want value for money tactical watch then the MUDMAN, G9300 is the one for you (it's also featured in "Best tactical and military watches for under $200"). Packed with features, durable, shock resistant and mud resistant. The watch Case and all the buttons are sealed to prevent mud, dust and other dirt from getting into the watch. Perfect for those dessert conditions.

WHAT WE LIKED

  • Solar battery and Digital compass
  • Moon Data (moon age of specific date and moon phase graph)
  • World Time 31 time zones (48 cities + UTC), city code display, daylight saving on/off
  • Four daily alarms and a snooze alarm
  • Water resistant up to 200m

WHAT WE DIDN'T LIKE

  • Full Auto EL Backlight with Afterglow

Again, I only chose the backlight as a con because I had to find a con, Marines have figured out a way to use this safely. It has a black resin band, digital and approximately eight months battery life on full charge without any further exposure to light. This robust powerhouse is a no-nonsense solar-powered watch that can take a severe beating. The one thing that won’t be taking a beating should you purchase an MUDMAN, G9300 is your wallet.

#4 - Suunto Core Black military

The Suunto Core features make it a leader in its class. Its features speak for themselves and combine to make this a great all-rounder. The Suunto Core has large numbers so you can clearly see the time outdoors and a backlight for indoors or night time conditions. 

It's very popular among the military personnel from the United Kingdom​

WHAT WE LIKED

  • Multiple watches with date and time functions
  • Sunrise/sunset data and storm alarm
  • Digital Compass, Altimeter, and Thermometer

WHAT WE DIDN'T LIKE

  • Backlight, but as one ex-soldier said, you'll learn to cover that

If you are posted in Iraq or Afghanistan replacing and finding a replacement battery may be near impossible, bear in mind, though, that the battery life of the batteries used are sometimes five years or more, so it shouldn’t pose an issue. The Elastomer strap is replaceable with black silicon straps that you can buy separately. It may only have one alarm and is not solar powered, but its robust construction and stylish design are a big attraction.

#5 - Casio Men's Watch SGW-100

Casio Men's Watch SGW-100

There are many words that I could use to describe the SGW-100. However, none of them would do it justice; I will let the features speak for themselves. At a fraction of the price (it's also featured in "Best Tactical and Military Watches for under $100"), the SGW-100 is nearly as tough as the G-Shock. The greatest feature of this watch, besides the very low price tag, is the display. It has the largest digits of any other Casio watch with an uncluttered screen, and only the digits light up. You will be able to see the time clearly without worrying about giving your position away.

WHAT WE LIKED

  • Water resistant up to 200m
  • Clear digital display
  • Calenda
  • Compass

WHAT WE DIDN'T LIKE

  • Stopwatch only 60 minutes
  • Thermometer can be inaccurate

The SGW-100 runs on a failure-free CR2025 battery which is totally reliable and will probably outlast many solar watches. The more I look at this watch, the more I like it if that is even possible. It is a near perfect watch, with all the functions you would need and at the perfect price. It's durable, nice looking, tough as nails and built to last.

#6 - Casio Master of G Mudmaster GWG1000GB

Casio Master of G Mudmaster

If I had to compare each watch to a famous movie character, I would without a doubt say that the Mudmaster is the Godfather of tactical watches. It has both analog and digital display, rugged good looks and surprisingly lightweight for its size. Resin band for easy cleaning and world time this watch is designed to operate efficiently in all situations and locations.

WHAT WE LIKED

  • Sapphire glass with non-reflective coating
  • 200m water resistance
  • Digital compass
  • Altimeter and barometer
  • Five daily alarms
  • Power saving mode and batter level indicator

WHAT WE DIDN'T LIKE

  • Price - the most expensive watch in our TOP 10
  • Might be a bit bulky for some

I had to dig deep to find a con on this watch, simply because there just aren’t any. The watch is feature packed with way too many features to mention; it is solar powered, vibration and mud resistant. It is radio controlled so it receives time calibration and it automatically receives radio signals that keep the displayed time accurate. The Mudmaster will surpass all your expectations and takes tactical watches to a whole new level of toughness.

#7 - Luminox Men's 3089 Navy Seal Colormark

In 1993, Nick North, an officer in the Navy Seals was tasked with working together with Luminox to design the ultimate Navy Seal watch. Luminox has been partnered with the Navy Seals for over 20 years perfecting the task. The 3089 is the latest addition to the 3080 series and is pretty near to perfect. The 3089 features a self-powered illumination system unique to Luminox brand watches.

WHAT WE LIKED

  • Water resistant up to 200m
  • Lightweight
  • Chronograph
  • Rotating 1-way diver
  • Casing is made of carbon reinforced PC

WHAT WE DIDN'T LIKE

  • Price, as it costs just over $500
  • Could be solar powered for its price

The highly scratch resistant glass is made of tempered glass. The construction of the watch case with a double-gasket gives you water resistance for up to 200 meters making the 3089 is the ultimate tactical watch for Navy Seals.

#8 - Marathon WW194015SS

MARATHON WW194015SS

Designed for field army personnel the stainless steel, very durable Marathon has mechanical hand winding technology, so there is no battery and is in line with the US government military standards. Marathon is on the list of qualified suppliers for the US military.

WHAT WE LIKED

  • Tritium on hour and minute hands and the hour markers on dial provide illumination
  • Casing is made og 316L surgical grade stainless steel
  • 24-hour dial
  • Nylon strap
  • Dust proof and water resistant

WHAT WE DIDN'T LIKE

  • Lacks features such as compass and thermometer

What the Marathon lacks in features it makes up in style. It brings a look of sophistication and classiness to the world of tactical watches that some of the other watches may lack. There are other strap options available in nylon as well as leather. It is a very popular watch and a favorite of many military personnel.

#9 - Casio Men's SGW-450H-2BCF

Casio Men's SGW-450H-2BCF

The SGW-450H-2BCF twin sensor Analog-Digital watch from Casio comes in bold black and is feature packed. It is water resistant up to 100m so could be worn while swimming and snorkelling but not recommended for Scuba diving. It is a great looking watching and in true Casio style, reliable, accurate and durable.

Another watch featured in the Best Tactical Watches under $100​

WHAT WE LIKED

  • Analog display easily visible even in low light conditions
  • Scratch resistant
  • Low-temperature resistance
  • World times
  • Barometer
  • Altimeter
  • 24-hour stopwatch

WHAT WE DIDN'T LIKE

  • No compass

The SGW-450H-2BCF isn’t solar powered. However, the lithium battery could last you 5 – 7 years. The altimeter is extremely accurate, it has EL illumination, and you can set the duration of illumination that you prefer. It is the complete package offering you five daily alarms, hourly signals and world time with an incredibly attractive price tag.

#10 - Seiko SNE331

Seiko SNE331

The SNE331 from Seiko is simple with a sleek design which is refreshing to see in the world of tactical watches. The sleek design allows military personnel heading home to dress down with a smaller, classier watch while still keeping the military watch look.

Pros:

WHAT WE LIKED

  • Solar powered with 10-month battery life
  • Large visible digits
  • Analog display with luminescent hands and markers
  • Scratch resistant

WHAT WE DIDN'T LIKE

  • Lacks some features like alarm and timers

This watch is what it is, a stylish military-style watch, available at a great price. The significant digits are easily visible, and it is water resistant up to 100m. Perfect watch if you want the military look without all the gadgets.

Zulu / Nato straps

Zulu / Nato watch straps

Any tactical watch owner or enthusiast has to have a selection of Zulu / Nato straps in their arsenal. Strong, flexible and durable, made of handwoven ballistic nylon. They offer great comfort and have a high resistance to abrasion. Adjustable to fit any wrist with polished stainless steel and PVD buckles. Straps are 22mm wide (fit between watch lugs), 2mm thick and 11’’ long. They are compatible with hundreds of watches, and you can revitalize the look of your tactical watch as often as you like, they are unisex, and you can choose from over 12 designs.

Conclusion

No matter where you are stationed, whatever the conditions there is a tactical watch that is suited to your specific needs. Looks aren’t everything and should be the last factor on your mind when choosing the best tactical watch for you. After all, a good looking watch or compass has never saved a life on looks alone. However, no one can argue that some of these tactical watches are great looking and even stylish.

In conclusion, each and every watch on this list of best tactical watches for military personnel has earned its spot and deserves to feature on the list. Each one offers unique features and has its set of pros and cons, but they are all great quality watches. You now have all the information you will need to choose the best military watch for you. However, there is absolutely nothing wrong with trusting your gut and considering a bit of personal preference.

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